When it comes to building an online presence for any business or organization, a website is the first and crucial step. Without a website, you will be relying on different digital channels, which will create difficulty in building the online presence.
You might want to grow the online presence of your business/organization or want to focus on personal brand, with a website, this becomes easier. Creating a business website is not enough. You need to make sure the website is ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant as well. Your website might be appealing and eye-catchy, but if it does not meet ADA guidelines, it’s not worth it.
Before we talk about new rules for ADA compliant websites, let’s talk about the meaning first.
What is ADA Compliance?
ADA Compliance refers to Americans with Disabilities Act standards. Making a website ADA compliant means it can be easily accessed by the people with disabilities. With the increase in the number of online users, it became necessary to come up with something like ADA.
The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in the year 1990. The need for this act was to make sure that businesses and public service providers take all the crucial steps to accommodate people with disabilities. In 2018, the Department of Justice provided some guidance saying that “the ADA applies to public accommodations’ websites.”
Benefits of Building an ADA Compliant Website
Here are the benefits:
1. Get more target audience
One of the best things about making a website ADA compliant is it can help you increase your target audience. By making a website ADA compliant, people with disabilities will not have difficulty accessing your website content. This way, your business will have an increased target audience.
2. Improve SEO efforts
When it comes to increasing a website’s reach, SEO (search engine optimization) plays a significant role. Nowadays, SEO is all about providing the best user experience. Making the website ADA compliant means you are improving user experience.
3. Avoid legal issues
This will also save you from getting into legal troubles. There are many popular brands that got penalized for not making their websites ADA compliant. Fordham University, Kylie Jenner, Foot Locker, and Brooks Brothers are some of the examples.
What is WCAG?
ADA doesn’t provide clear guidelines for website compliance. Hence, many website owners follow WCAG rules. WCAG stands for Website Content Accessibility Guidelines. Following WCAG rules will ensure better digital accessibility. There are three versions of WCAG: 1.0, 2.0, and 2.1.
With no proper rules for ADA compliance, many businesses and organizations follow the WCAG (Website Content Accessibility Guidelines). Following WCAG can help you improve accessibility of your website for the people with disabilities. Here are WCAG 2.1 guidelines ensure your web content is:
- Perceivable: First of all, your website content needs to be perceivable for your visitors. It means whatever content you publish on your website needs to have alternative content formats. This way, if the user can’t understand web content of a particular content format, can go through another one. For example, you can add content formats that are alternatives to text, like audio and video. This way, visually impaired people will not have difficulty understanding your website content
- Understandable: Another important factor included in WCAG is the web content needs to be understandable. When creating content for your website, you need to have a clear idea about your target audience. Having a clear idea about the target audience would allow you to create understandable web content.
- Operable: Your website might have amazing design and look, but what if its content is not easy to navigate? In this situation, the website visitors will have difficulty accessing different website content. Your visitors should be able to navigate your web content using keyboard as well as mouse.
- Robust: Another thing to focus on is making the web content easy to interpret by various devices and platforms. Your target audience will be accessing your website from different devices and platforms. Focusing on this factor would make it easy for your visitors to access your website from different devices.
Keep in mind these rules does not make a website ADA compliant. These are Website Content Accessibility Guidelines. Focusing on these factors will improve your website accessibility and improve user experience for people with disabilities.
Rules for ADA compliant websites
There are no clear rules or regulations for what ADA compliant website or web content should look like. However, the businesses that fall under ADA Title I or ADA Title III are required to develop a website that offers “reasonable accessibility” to people with disabilities.
As there are no clear rules for what an ADA compliant website should look like, it can be confusing to understand what factors can make your website accessible to people with disabilities.
David Englehardt, a New York City-based small business attorney said, “As far as websites go, there is no federally codified direction on how to make websites comply.”
How to develop an ADA-compliant website?
As we have already seen that there are no clear rules for making a website ADA-compliant, things can get a bit complicated. When developing a website, important things to keep in mind are making the website easily accessible for people with disabilities.
Your website might be visited by individuals who are visually impaired, hearing impaired or with other disabilities. You need to make your website and its content in such a manner that it can be accessed and understood by everyone. You can consider adding content in different formats. For example, text, audio, video, etc.
When a visually impaired individual visits your website, he/she will have difficulty reading your textual content. Having audio-based content will make it easy for the person to understand your content. On the flip side, when a hearing impaired person visits your website, he/she will have difficulty hearing the website’s audio-based content. The text-based content would make it easy for the person to understand the content.
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